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September 16th 2011 print

Michael Connor

Stamping out freedom

In the Federal Parliament Senator Conroy threatened Australia’s free press by suggesting the media might be controlled by a “regulator”.

In the Federal Parliament Senator Conroy threatened Australia’s free press by suggesting the media might be controlled by a “regulator”.

In 1824, when Sir Thomas Brisbane was Governor of New South Wales,  the monopoly of our first newspaper the Sydney Gazette was broken when Robert Wardell and William Charles Wentworth began publishing The Australian (not the same one we have today) without government permission or special approval. It marked the establishment of the free press and even allowed its older rival to escape from government interference.

After Brisbane came Governor Darling and more newspapers appeared. Despite having Colonial Office approval to licence the colonial press Darling did not do so. When he was later subjected to an unfair and personally vituperative campaign by all the newspapers it was too late to institute controls.

Now, an unpopular and unprincipled Government is imposing an unnecessary inquiry and, even before it meets, threatening to impose a "regulator". Do they think this will stop Australians reporting their lies and cover-ups?

The free press, an unlicensed press, is one of the oldest of Australia’s freedoms.

If the Gillard government attempts to licence the media it will be an act of tyranny that has no place in our democracy. In the 1820s and 1830s colonists fought government imposed controls by reminding everyone that they were British and had British rights. Ms Gillard, and the government of despair she directs, might like to remember that we are Australians and our birthright is freedom.

Who would have ever thought that a modern Australian government would even consider such actions?

This is a government that has completely lost its way.


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